FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that “the Angels are working hard to trade Gary Matthews Jr.” Of course, if the Angels could have traded Matthews without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract they would have done so long ago.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports recently ranked Matthews’ five-year, $50 million deal as the eighth-worst contract handed out this decade, and the Angels still owe him $23 million over the next two seasons. How much of that money would they have to eat in order to find a taker for the 35-year-old Matthews?
In an effort to answer that question Sam Miller of the Orange County Register wondered what type of contract Matthews would get on the open market right now, because if you subtract that hypothetical amount from $23 million that’s basically how much the Angels would need to chalk up as a sunk cost.
Naturally, agent Scott Leventhal is in full-on spin mode when it comes to Matthews’ current value:
Gary wants to play every day, and he wants to play center field. He’s still got an amazing amount of talent. The Angels have been notified [of Matthews’ desire for a trade] on a number of occasions. It’s just a matter of whether something can be done.
When agents say things like that, do they realize how ridiculous they sound and how much credibility they lose? Matthews is 35 years old and has gone from overrated to just plain bad defensively while hitting .248/.325/.383 in three seasons with the Angels, including .250/.336/.361 this year. Yet according to Leventhal “he’s still got an amazing amount of talent” and wants to be an everyday center fielder. In related news, my mom thinks I’m still the handsomest boy in the neighborhood and I want to marry Mila Kunis.
Step away from those equally implausible fantasy worlds and Matthews is basically a run-of-the-mill backup outfielder at this point, which would maybe get him a one-year deal for something like $2 million on the open market. If he’s lucky. In other words, for the Angels to find a taker for him they’d likely have to eat upwards of $20 million, which definitely qualifies as “working hard.”
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.